State Dept. Daily Press Briefing September 12, 200
State Dept. Daily Press Briefing September 12, 2005
Adam Ereli, Deputy Spokesman
September 12, 2005
Update on International Assistance for Victims of Hurricane Katrina
Possible Visits by Foreign Diplomats to View Facilities in New Orleans Area
Coordination of International Assistance
Completion of Israeli Withdrawal From Gaza
Elections in Japan
Secretary Rice's Call to Japanese Foreign Minister
Japan's Contribution to Multinational Force in Iraq/Future
Secretary Rice's Attendance at the UNGA in New York
Secretary Rice's Meeting with Pakistan President in New York
Explosion in Baghdad
US Ambassador Khalilzad's Comments Regarding Syria
Elections in Egypt
International Monitors for Elections
1:10 p.m. EDT
MR. ERELI: Greetings, everyone. Welcome to our briefing today. Glad to see you. If I may, I'll begin with two -- one update and one statement. On the update, just wanted to let you know how things are proceeding in terms of coordinating international assistance and help for the victims of the Katrina hurricane disaster. We have, to date, received offers of assistance from 118 countries and 12 international organizations. We recognize and appreciate the generosity that the international community has shown in the wake of this tragedy.
So far, 30 planes have landed from abroad with relief supplies. At the present time, there is an additional plane landing from NATO. It's the first in what we expect will be a number of flights from NATO with relief supplies. This flight contains supplies donated by the Czech Republic, including blankets, camp beds and tents. I expect that there will be additional NATO flights later this week.
On the diplomatic front, we're working to facilitate, to the extent that we can, to the extent that it doesn't interfere with relief operations, visits by foreign diplomats to look at the facilities in New Orleans. As you probably know, there were a number of consulates there and the countries that are represented in New Orleans are eager to be able to look -- get into the facilities, assess the damage and proceed in next steps, so we will be working to facilitate that in the week to come.
And finally, coordinating all this are dedicated State Department personnel on the ground, working together with international organizations' counterparts. As you know, it is led by our Ambassador, Joe Sullivan, and he has a team of 15 State Department personnel with him, helping to make all this work. And working with them, I would note, are nine officials of the United Nations. They are collocated and working in synch to make the international assistance aspect of this -- Disaster Relief and Recovery Operation -- work smoothly. So we are on the ground and we are appreciative of, and trying to be supportive of the efforts of our international partners to help out in this crisis.
If you have any questions on that, I'd be happy to answer them before maybe the next statement. Okay.
The United States welcomes today the completion of Israel's disengagement from Gaza. This is a historic moment and we salute the commitment of both sides to a successful disengagement and note that that commitment has been impressive.
Looking forward, we hope that this cooperation will continue. And we will be working with the Israelis, with the Palestinians and with our Quartet partners on the next steps in the process, particularly to revitalize the Palestinian economy, to help the Palestinian security forces restore law and order and, overall, to advance the President's vision of two states living side by side.
QUESTION: Back on the foreign assistance, would it be possible to get a list of consulates -- countries that have consulates in the New Orleans area, including countries that expect to send --
MR. ERELI: Yeah. What we'll all endeavor to get you, George, is a list of countries with consulates in New Orleans and update the travel of those countries as they -- or representatives of those countries as they take place.
QUESTION: And one other thing, have you said no to any country thus far?
MR. ERELI: No, we have not.
QUESTION: The other question, back to the first part.
MR. ERELI: On foreign -- on Katrina.
MR. ERELI: Sure.
QUESTION: Did you have any -- there is any development in the Iranian offer, regarding the 10 million . . .
MR. ERELI: Well, I think we spoke to that -- we spoke to that last week, and I don't have any update on that.
On any other subject? Go ahead, sure.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) regarding the Prime Minister's Koizumi's victory in the Japanese election, what effects will this have on the future of U.S.-Japan relations?
MR. ERELI: Japan is a close and valued partner of the United States. We have had -- we had an excellent relation with the previous government of Japan. We congratulate all of those who won in the elections. We look forward to continuing to work closely with the new government of Japan as we have in the past on the many bilateral, regional and global issues, where the United States and Japan, I think, work well and fruitfully for the international community. So I think, in a nutshell, it's continuation of an excellent relationship and congratulations to the winners.
QUESTION: Regarding (inaudible). I apologize if this issue came up in the last week or (inaudible). The Secretary is in New York today. Does she have any plan to meet with the Japanese counterpart?
MR. ERELI: I would note, since you raise it, and thank you for reminding me, that the Secretary did call Foreign Minister Machimura today to congratulate him on the LDP's impressive victory. And I would note that he offered condolences for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. So that was an important call and one that's worth noting.
As far as other meetings, particularly up in New York go, I'd refer you to our press office there. They've really got the latest.
QUESTION: The Japanese Government is considering the extension of Japanese Self-Defense Force service in Iraq. What does the U.S. Government expect of Japan (inaudible)?
MR. ERELI: Well, we certainly appreciate and value Japan's important contribution to the Multinational Force and to Iraq's stability and security. I would note not only are they a very valuable participant in the Multinational Force, but that Japan has also been extremely generous in providing economic support -- or support for the economic rehabilitation of Iraq, as well as very important diplomatic support for the political rebuilding of that country. That's number one.
Number two, as far as decisions by the Japanese Government regarding future commitments, future participation in a Multinational Force, obviously, that's something that the Japanese Government is going to have to work on and decide in consultation with the appropriate Japanese institutions. As with all the partners in the Multinational Force, these decisions, these discussions take place in the context of wanting the best for Iraq, being committed to the goals that we're all working toward for Iraq, and being done in coordination, close coordination and consultation, with the other partners, so that all of our actions are supportive of the goals we're trying to achieve.
QUESTION: I have a question, but I'm not sure it's something I should ask here. President Musharraf today met with Secretary Rice and he spoke about the possibility of building a barrier between Pakistan and Afghanistan. I wanted to know what is the opinion of --
MR. ERELI: Secretary Rice did meet with Pakistani Prime Minister Pervez Musharraf today. The meeting just concluded, so I don't have a readout of it for you. I've seen those press reports. I think we'll be getting -- we'll be able to give a fuller readout for you by our colleagues up in New York, so I'd refer you up there for further information.
QUESTION: There was an explosion in Baghdad not long before you came out. I don't suppose you have anything on that?
MR. ERELI: No. Nothing.
MR. ERELI: Yeah.
QUESTION: About what Ambassador Khalilzad told us earlier, well, he told us about the possibility of action against Syria, the patience is running out, time is running out. Don't you think U.S. has enough on its plate right now with Iraq and Iran and North Korea? So what is the possibility about Syria? What you can do?
MR. ERELI: Well, I think the United States has long made clear its view that Syria is not contributing positively to security and stability in Iraq and that it is incumbent upon Syria to do so. It's been -- that's not just our view, it's the view of the Iraqi Government. And I think it's the view of a number of other -- of Iraq's neighbors. So this is a problem that Syria is going to have to face up to -- the fact that it is widely regarded as a destabilizing element in Iraq. It's supporting groups and individuals who are killing Iraqis. That's not -- that's contrary to what the Government of Syria says it wants to do. And it's certainly contrary to what the international community wants Syria to do. And it's contrary to the interests of Iraq.
So what we're looking for is, as Ambassador Khalilzad said, is a decision by the Government of Syria to get serious about preventing its territory from being used by insurgents and others bent on destabilizing Iraq and killing innocent Iraqis.
And I think the point that Ambassador Khalilzad made is a good one, that Iraq is going to succeed and Iraq is going to prevail and there will be a democratic political future for Iraq and an Iraq that is prosperous and powerful and Syria should bear that in mind, as it makes its decisions about its policies. So far, we haven't seen the kind of action that we've been looking for and it's been a subject of discussion. It's been a subject of representations to the Government of Syria for some time. Again, not just by us, but by Iraq and by others. And Ambassador Khalilzad was pointing to a continuing problem that we, and the friends of Iraq, are not going to ignore.
QUESTION: But what can you do?
MR. ERELI: We can continue to do what we've been doing, which is work with Iraq, work with others, to prevent Syria and Syrian territory from being used as a place where terrorists actions in Iraq are facilitated.
QUESTION: You had a statement yesterday, I believe, on the Egyptian elections. I didn't see it, but is that the --
MR. ERELI: It was put out on Saturday evening, I believe. And in that statement, we made a number of points. I think the first point was to note that the elections in Egypt marked an important step toward full democracy that the Egyptian people both desire and deserve. The process that culminated in the vote on September 7th was characterized by freer debate, by an increase in transparency and an improved access in media that was, frankly, unprecedented in previous Egyptian elections and that this was a hopeful sign for Egypt and for the region.
We then in our statement looked forward to the upcoming parliamentary elections in November and we encouraged Egypt to build on the progress that they made with this past election. And we noted that there were some criticisms of the electoral process in the presidential elections. And we noted that the parliamentary elections in November are an opportunity to address those issues -- issues that deal with presence of monitors, the access of monitors to polling stations, complete -- broader access to media by opposition. And basically working to make sure that Egypt's elections are fully consistent with internationally recognized processes for other international elections. So this was -- that was our reaction to the elections.
And I think the final point that we made is that, you know, we view this as a bold step, as an important step, and we will move forward with Egypt as a friend and a common supporter of democratic principles and goals.
QUESTION: So you didn't -- you don't find criticism of the process in any way, shape or form? You just said --
MR. ERELI: Well --
QUESTION: -- that there were certain things (inaudible) that can be dealt with in the next elections.
MR. ERELI: We note the criticisms and some criticisms are valid. Not all criticism, but some criticisms are valid. I would also note that -- look, no electoral system is perfect. This was the first one. It was an unprecedented one. There is room for improvement, as there are in almost every new democratic experience. And the parliamentary elections in November offer an opportunity to address the criticisms and to correct some things that could have been done better.
QUESTION: Do you want to say something on your own hook about what went wrong with these presidential elections?
MR. ERELI: I think I pointed to the fact that, you know, the fact that there weren't international monitors or that full and timely access to polling stations. If there had been, I think that probably would have enhanced the transparency and enhanced the credibility of these elections. That's not to, I think, cast in doubt the results of the elections, but it's an area for improvement.
QUESTION: Are you going to encourage them to invite the international monitors group on November election?
MR. ERELI: That's been a subject that we've been -- that we in the international community have been presenting to the Egyptian Government and we'll continue to make our views on that known.
QUESTION: Anything on the turnout?
MR. ERELI: No, don't have anything. Turnout was large and representative, but don't have anything more than we've already said.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. ERELI: Last chance. Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:25 p.m.)
DPB # 155